This week the Cowboys hired former Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to take over play calling for the Cowboys. They also promoted defensive line coach Ron Marinelli to defensive coordinator and moved Monte Kiffin to a rather ambiguous role as mentor. Was he promoted or demoted?
What impact can be expected from these latest coaching moves from Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones?
Marinelli Promoted to Defensive Coordinator:
Based on his past record, I think moving Marinelli to defensive coordinator is a good move. Rod Marinelli did an outstanding job last year with the defensive line considering what he had to work with. The Cowboys were desperately bringing in guys off the street to play on the line and Marinelli managed to get a good effort from them. He was defensive coordinator for the Bears when Lovie Smith was the head coach and those defenses were very good at taking the ball away and creating turnovers.
Marinelli was promoted from defensive line coach to Bears defensive coordinator in 2010.
From 2010 to 2012, Marinelli’s defenses ranked ninth, seventeenth, and fifth.
In 2012, the Bears led the NFL in interceptions with 24, and led in takeaways with 44.
Recently Lovie Smith was named new head coach of the Buccaneers and I couldn’t help but wonder if he might give Marinelli a call to come help coach the defense. Promoting Marinelli to coordinator may have helped keep him in Dallas.
Scott Linehan Brought in to call Offensive Plays:
To be honest, my expectations for this move improving the offense next season are very low. I blogged last season that Callahan was terrible at calling plays and pointed out that Tim Brown warned us about Callahan HERE. So I do believe a change was needed. But in a way, no matter who calls the plays, Romo seems to change it at the line anyway.
Jason Garrett coached with Linehan when they were on the Dolphins staff and Garrett pointed out that they have very similar offensive philosophies which appears to be very true. Both love to pass the ball and abandon the run completely and I think that was a big problem with the offense last season. Just look at that debacle in the Packers game last year.
Last season Dallas finished 31st in rushing attempts in the NFL when they actually had a respectable 4.5 yards per attempt average.
Linehan was offensive coordinator for the Lions from 2009 through 2013. Similar to the Cowboys, the Lions ranked high in passing yards and attempts during those seasons, but were consistently toward the bottom in both rushing yards and rushing attempts.
In 2012, the Lions led the NFL in passing attempts with Dallas 3rd in passing attempts.
Last season the Lions ranked 5th in passing attempts with an average of 39.6 per game.
In 2012, The Lions set an NFL record with 740 pass attempts during the season (46.25 attempts per game), breaking a record that had stood for thirty years.
With Linehan calling the plays, I’m afraid Cowboy fans can expect more of the same with that being a lopsided offensive attack that passes much more than it runs. And I think in the end, that means we can expect similar results.
What I think the Cowboys could use is a play caller that commits more to the run and keeps Murray involved in the game. Last season they added Frederick at center who proved to be a good physical run blocker but too often, the offense depended on Romo and inexplicably abandoned the run.
That kind of pass heavy Dallas offense ultimately makes things more difficult for the Dallas defense as they are on the field longer. The poor defensive performance last season speaks for itself.
Provided the Cowboys add some talented defensive linemen through the draft, I think Marinelli as defensive coordinator will improve their defense next season. With Linehan bringing in his pass heavy offensive philosophy, unfortunately I don’t look for the Cowboys to get their much needed run game on track next season.